Like many criminal offenses, a DWI can be upgraded to a more severe charge based on the circumstances of the incident. Similar to how a simple theft charge can become felony robbery if a weapon is used in the commission of a crime, there are certain factors that, if present, can lead to a person being charged with an upgraded DWI charge. Below, we take a closer look at the aggravating factors associated with a DWI, and we explain why they can cause so much trouble for your case.
Upgraded DWI Factors In Minnesota
If any of the following factors are present during the course of your DWI arrest, you can face an upgraded DWI charge. Those factors include:
- Having a blood alcohol content of 0.16 or more at the time of arrest.
- The presence of a child under the age of 16 in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense.
- A prior impaired driving conviction or alcohol related driver’s license revocation within the ten years directly preceding the current DWI offense.
Enhanced DWI Charges
The more aggravating factors that are present at the time of arrest, the more serious charge you’ll face. For example, if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, you had a blood alcohol content of 0.12 and it was your first ever DWI, odds are you’ll end up facing a Fourth Degree DWI charge here in Minnesota, which is considered a misdemeanor offense. A misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $1,000, but you can also face license restrictions on top of the standard misdemeanor penalties.
If one or more of the above aggravating factors are present during your arrest, you will likely be charged with either a third degree DWI or a second DWI. They are pretty similar in that they are both gross misdemeanor offenses, meaning you can face up to one year in jail and be fined up to $3,000 for your actions. Again, there may also be additional consequences for your driver’s license, and it’s possible that your vehicle will be seized by the state, although this can be contested.
Felony DWI Charge
The above aggravating factors are not used to determine whether or not a person will face a first degree DWI charge, which is considered a felony offense in Minnesota. A person will only face felony-level DWI charges if they have three or more DWIs on their record within the last ten years, if they have a prior first degree DWI on their record, or if they have been previously convicted of criminal vehicular operation. Needless to say, if it’s reached this point, you will be facing severe consequences. If convicted, you can be fined up to $14,000 and face up to seven years in prison.
Regardless of whether or not aggravating factors are present, it’s always important to strongly consider challenging your DWI in court. A DWI can have significant consequences for your ability to drive, maintain employment and provide an income for yourself or your family. Don’t just plead guilty and try to sweep it under the rug, because you won’t outrun the ripple effect of the DWI.
Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm have been contesting and winning DWI cases in Minneapolis and the greater Twin Cities area for more than a decade, and he can do the same for you. For more information, or to set up a free strategy session with a member from the firm, give us a call today at (952) 224-2277.